Announcing the 2022 St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize Winners

The Bibliographical Society of America (BSA) is thrilled to announce the winners of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize, an annual academic book prize honoring scholarship in the bibliography of American history and literature.

The Prize Committee of renowned academics and experts in the field of American bibliography chose Dr. Elizabeth McHenry and Dr. Kelly Wisecup as the winners of the Mercantile Prize for their books, To Make Negro Literature (Duke University Press, 2021) and Assembled for Use (Yale University Press, 2021). McHenry’s book examines the vast developmental byways of African American writing in the aftermath of the 1896 legalization of segregation. Wisecup’s study of the nature and process of Native American archival compilations show Native writers making and circulating such texts to critique colonial archives and foster relations within Indigenous communities. Both books are fine examples of critical bibliographical practice drawing heavily on traditional bibliographical sources, especially those (like subscription lists and scrapbooks) which have been commonly overlooked, until now.

The Prize Committee is pleased to recognize two further works for Honorable Mention this year, The Klondike and Alaska Gold Rushes: A Descriptive Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets Covering the Years 1896- 1905 by Gary F. Kurutz, published by the Book Club of California in 2021, and Black Pulp: Genre Fiction in the Shadow of Jim Crow by Brooks E. Hefner and published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2021.

The Prize Committee received nearly twenty excellent nominations for the prize. We are gratified to report that Drs. McHenry and Wisecup will share the cash award of $2000, and certificates will be awarded for Honorable Mentions.  Each work was considered especially on rigorous bibliographical merit, future impact, and use in classroom or research settings.

The BSA would like to thank the Committee for their hard work and dedication in selecting the winners of the 2023 Mercantile Prize. We congratulate prize winners and honorable mentions, and recognize their outstanding achievements. Finally, the Society is especially grateful to John Neal Hoover, Executive Director of the St. Louis Mercantile Library, for establishing the Prize, Chairing the Prize Committee, and most recently, establishing a permanent endowment for it. Thanks to his outstanding support, the BSA is proud to offer this triennial award in perpetuity.

Serving on the Prize Committee: Chair John Neal Hoover (St. Louis Mercantile Library); Dr. Scott Casper (American Antiquarian Society), Dr. Lindsay DiCuirci ( University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Sara Hodge (St. Louis Mercantile Library), George Miles (Beinecke Library, retired), and Dr. Derrick R. Spires (Cornell University).

For more information about the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize, please visit the Prize’s page on this website. Nominations will reopen in 2025 for the 2026 award.